Councillors have voted for an indefinite moratorium on fracking in the North Yorkshire district where Third Energy has permission for the process.
The ruling Conservative group on Ryedale District Council announced last week that it would propose a motion for a five-year moratorium on fracking. This would have continued a previous moratorium, passed in 2015.
But at a meeting of the council last night (5 September 2019), councillors approved an amended version for an indefinite moratorium.
The vote was 18 in favour, 0 against and 8 abstentions.
The revised motion said the council wanted to:
“put on record thanks to the Councillors who have fought against fracking in the courts and at the Public Examination into the North Yorkshire Minerals Plan, and to everybody who had contributed to the anti-fracking cause, including members of the public who engaged in lawful direct action.”
Members also asked the council leader, Keane Duncan, to write to the government setting out Ryedale’s position.
Cllr Duncan had described the motion as a “historic message” to the government and signalled “a significant break” with national policy.
Local anti-fracking campaigners welcomed the vote today.
Steve White, of Frack Free Ryedale, said:
“Ryedale District Council’s motion for a moratorium reflects a growing realisation across the political spectrum that a new intensive gas industry, feeding our addiction to climate-threatening fossil fuels and threaded through our densely populated island, simply isn’t viable.”
Third Energy was granted planning permission in May 2016 to frack the KM8 well at Kirby Misperton.
But the operation has not yet happened. In January 2018, the government ordered an assessment of Third Energy’s financial resilience. There has been no public statement on the outcome of the test.
Local anti-fracking campaigner, Peter Allen, said:
“The recognition by Ryedale District Council that fracking is totally unsuitable for the area is to be welcomed. Let us hope that the enlightened stance of the council is followed by similar actions from the county council and the government.”
“The amended motion also recognises the contribution of campaigners who have fought to prevent fracking in North Yorkshire. Frack Free Ryedale recently celebrated the fact that in the five years since the group formed, no fracking has taken place in the district but they vowed to keep the pressure on until fracking is banned completely.”
Steve Mason, a Lib Dem councillor on Ryedale District Council, said:
“This is great, and a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the anti-fracking campaigners everywhere. You do have to give credit where credit is due, and the Conservative motion was a positive step forward for the council. I’m especially glad they accepted our amendments to make it an indefinite moratorium and also write to the government to set out this position.”
Ryedale District Council is not a mineral planning authority. Any decisions on fracking applications in the district would be made by North Yorkshire County Council.
But Jennee Dixon, of the campaign network Frack Free United, said the motion by Ryedale could have a significant role in influencing future government policy.
“The message that I hope these local Conservatives convey to their colleagues across the country is: ‘Is fracking a price worth paying?’
“Let’s not forget that it is still Conservative party policy to frack the UK. It’s increasingly likely that an election is coming. Fracking, which affects over 170 constituencies, including 40 marginal seats, could be an electoral earthquake for the Conservative party.
“It is clear that developing fracking in the UK will lead to unacceptable negative impacts on local communities, the economy, democracy, environment, health and also hamper efforts to tackle climate change.”